To Democrats, they’re still just “deplorables.”
Hillary Clinton’s infamous slur of Donald Trump’s supporters in 2016 likely played a role in the election outcome. Six years later, it’s worth asking if her party has learned anything about why Trump beat her and why he retains such a vast following.
To judge by the January 6 hearings, the answer is no, hell no. Were they wiser, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her henchmen would have realized a kangaroo court treatment of the Capitol riot would not be persuasive because it would not be trusted by nearly half the country.
Her ignorance is America’s loss. Many of the gritty details the investigation panel has presented would have wider impact if the members were not so one-sided. But because they are, the proceedings smack of another partisan exercise, a Trump Impeachment, Act 3.
For example, testimony last week by former White House insiders revealed the strong pushback among much of Trump’s inner circle against his claim the 2020 election was stolen and detailed then-Vice President Mike Pence’s principled refusal to halt certification of the Electoral College results. Tuesday’s appearance by officials from Arizona and Georgia, states Joe Biden took from the GOP column, showed the extreme efforts Trump and his lawyers made to overturn the results in those states.
While Trump’s position on the election was well known, the first-person accounts illustrated how outlandish his proposed remedies were and how little hard evidence he had. But in refusing to seat any Republicans who did not start with the view that Trump should be forever barred from public life, Pelosi undermined the findings before they were revealed.
Only part of the story
As George Washington University Law School’s Jonathan Turley and other legal experts have noted, the lack of any semblance of a cross-examination of witnesses means viewers are getting only the part of the story that supports Pelosi’s agenda. Show trials are un-American, even when Trump is in the dock.
Although I believe Trump needs to change his tune about the 2020 election if he intends to run in 2024, the mental hurdle against trusting the Dems’ performance peaks with every appearance of Rep. Adam Schiff. His face makes it impossible not to think of the Russia, Russia, Russia hoax he pushed beyond the breaking point and his mad-dog effort to turn a Trump 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into a cause for removal.
In that sense, Pelosi & Co. continue to repeat the essence of Clinton’s mistake. Hillary’s 2016 thesis was that all she had to do was plant concocted “evidence” with the media that Trump was a Russian stooge, get the FBI to investigate and voters would migrate to her side in a heartbeat.
When they didn’t, Clinton called them names, most notably at a private fund-raiser.
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” she said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”
Apparently it was news to her that calling voters stupid and accusing them of being bigots is not the way to charm them. Nor was it helpful to the anti-Trump movement in the long run that Clinton’s claims about Russia were fake news and the FBI had spied on his presidential campaign.
Similarly, Pelosi’s insistence on conformity of viewpoint and contempt for those who refuse to subscribe to her vendetta helps explain Trump’s staying power even now.
Any normal politician would have been abandoned because of the January 6 riot itself. No hearings would have been necessary to seal the door shut against any potential comeback.
Still a GOP powerhouse
Yet, despite Pelosi’s persistent attempt to destroy him, Trump remains the most powerful force in the GOP and is still reshaping the party one endorsement at a time. He is also shadowing the hearings with acidic commentary and his version of events, which include his continued insistence the election was stolen.
While it’s possible the hearings will persuade some supporters to abandon him, there is no sign of that yet.
Also still unclear is the Dems’ ultimate aim. Just last week, panel chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said he did not envision a referral to the Justice Department urging that Trump be prosecuted. “That’s not our job,” he told reporters. “Our job is to look at Jan. 6. What caused it and make recommendations after that . . . We don’t have the authority.”
Other members of the panel, including Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican ally of Pelosi, quickly pushed back, saying no decision had been made, a suggestion that she and others want charges brought against Trump.
Although Attorney General Merrick Garland does not need congressional referral to bring a case, there are other, more substantial hurdles.
Most important, many legal experts say they have not seen compelling evidence Trump committed a crime during the run-up to the Capitol riot or in his efforts to overturn the election. Without a slam-dunk case showing clear intent to break the law, they believe the Justice Department would not take the leap of bringing criminal charges against an ex-president for acts he committed as president.
Then again, if Dems want to make certain that Trump remains a powerful nemesis, they should get Garland to bring any case he can as soon as possible. To Trump supporters, the prosecution would be persecution and fresh proof that Washington is a swamp that only he can drain.
Crime still plaguing Hizzoner
There is some limited good news on the city’s crime front compared to last year. NYPD stats show that through Sunday, murders are down 13.3%, shooting victims are down 9.4% and shooting incidents are down 11.5%.
Unfortunately, every other crime and reporting category show increases, some of them dramatic. Robbery is up nearly 40%, auto theft 48% and grand larceny 50%.
More revealing, every category shows an increase over 2020, with the total index of reports up a whopping 37.5%.
The bottom line: Mayor Adams doesn’t have nearly enough laurels to rest on. The city remains a long, long way from being safe.
Tanking Joe’s ‘Vlad did it’ lie
Reader Ron Perri is a Biden skeptic, writing: “According to the president, Vladimir Putin has caused the rise in gasoline prices and there’s nothing we can do about it. Who knew tanking our economy could be so easy?
“If the old Soviet Union leaders had thought of that, they could have won the Cold War.”
Still 38%? Why?
Reader David Shapiro raises a point about Joe Biden that confuses me, too. He writes: “It is simply amazing that there are still something like 38% of Americans who approve of the job this woeful incompetent in the White House is doing! What can they be thinking?”